After a promising start, bermudagrass hay production has virtually shut off in east-central Texas due to a late-developing drought. Hay is already being shipped into the region from Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

“From the first part of July until now, rainfall has been pretty much non-existent,” says Aaron Low, Cherokee County ag agent. “Most people were able to get two cuttings before the dry weather started. But the second cutting was less than 75% of normal. Since then, we haven’t seen much hay being made at all.

“A lot of our hay growers here are ranchers who feed most of what they put up and then sell any excess,” he explains. “Last year, we shipped a lot of hay out into west and central Texas. This year, most people here will be lucky to have enough hay to take care of their own livestock, much less market any.”

In recent weeks, 4 x 5’ round bales of bermudagrass, weighing 800-900 lbs, have been bringing $40-50/roll. “We’ve seen prices a lot higher than that in the last few years, but we’ve seen it lower than that, too,” says Low. “If we don’t get some rain soon, I expect we’ll see prices go even higher in the next few months.”

The ag agent also reminds area producers of the Oct. 22 Cherokee County Hay Show and Sale at the Cherokee County Exposition Center in Jacksonville. Proceeds from the event, which starts at 6 p.m., will be used to support a 4-H scholarship program, youth programs associated with the Soil Conservation District and the Cherokee County Showbarn.

To contact Low, call 903-683-5416 or email arlow@ag.tamu.edu.

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